The Essence of Life: Proverbs 26:18-19, “Lasting Biblical Friendship.”

Proverbs 26:18, “18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death

  • The word, “madman” literally means “rabid.”  It is someone who is mentally unstable, because they are walking around throwing “firebrands, arrows and death.”

Now, throwing “firebrands (fiery arrows) and regular arrows makes sense, but who’s out throwing death? And how do you throw death?  Fiery arrows and regular arrows imply physical harm in an isolated damage, but “death” is all encompassing; emotional, relational, financial, spiritual, mental, and physical. Does that make sense?

In verse 18 this madman isn’t in an argument between two people who are aware of conflict. No, the imagery is much stronger, because this “madman” is indiscriminately throwing around death and destruction, so that from the reader’s perspective verse 18 is jarring. The shock and awe is intended.

Proverbs 26:19, “19 so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “Was I not joking?”

  • Verse 18 begins with a comparison of a madman throwing fiery arrows and death, and then verse 19 seems to come across like an understatement.In verse 18 a madman is running through the streets throwing death, and in verse 19 someone is playing jokes. What?

The word, “deceive” means to “mislead or to trick but in the original language the two verses are even more closely related because the original word means “cause to fail.”

The deception isn’t just a verbal trick, but actually tampering with the bow and arrow to fail, which is used for hunting and battle to actually fail, putting his or her life in risk, and then saying, “Was I not joking?”

In addition, the word, “neighbor” in the original language is to be understood as a “friend,” which makes the “deception” even more severe, because the “man” is literally putting his friend’s life in danger, and then saying, “Was I not joking?”

Now, I am not sure how many of us run around shooting people with flaming arrows, but the key to the proverb is that we tend to overlook our offenses with our friends with minimizing comments like, “Was I not joking?”

It is going to happen. We are going to hurt the people who are closest to us. Some of us have stories of fractures in our family, some of us have stories of friendships that we have stopped talking, some of us have just assumed friendships come and go, and our proverb forces us to ask, “How do we not minimize offense in our friendships?”

Can I walk us through 3 points of application on biblical friendship, and it is biblical friendship, because the Scriptures are our guiding principle for all decisions in life, even in friendship.

  1. Lasting Biblical Friendships Are Necessary
  2. Lasting Biblical Friendships Are A Process
  3. Lasting Biblical Friendships Need Leadership

I am guessing that some of us are discouraged by our friendships right now? It’s possible you have been investing in biblical friendships, seeing fruit of those friendships, and then friends move, friends leave our church family, friends hurt us, and over time we can get cynical.

But, it is only Jesus who can soften our hearts. It is only Jesus who can give us hope. It is only Jesus who can give us the patience and the courage to pursue these types of friendships.

There’s a reason Jesus tells the disciples over and over, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.” Jesus knows life is hard. Jesus knows friendships are difficult. Jesus knows we are going to go through periods of great loneliness, and it is only Jesus who says, “I will never leave you, never hurt you, and I will never fail you.”

I wish I could promise you that North Village Church will have the types of friends where we never hurt one another, but that is a lie. It is going to happen. I am going to hurt you. I am going to disappoint you. I am literally probably going to say something that offends you and then try to cover it up with, “I was only joking.” but not Jesus.

It is Jesus who softens our heart. It is Jesus who heals our anxiety and fear. It is Jesus who strengthens us to keep trying. It is Jesus who sustains us through difficult seasons. Won’t you turn to Him and receive all that He has to offer?